The Regional Review

Volume I - No. 3

September, 1938


By Captain K. T. Brunsvold,
Quartermaster Reserve

As the conservation of natural resources is one of the most important aims of the Civilian Conservation Corps it naturally follows that the conservation of Government assets, as represented by the clothing and equipment of enrollees, also should be an important objective of the Corps. In other words, if clothing and equipment which have not been worn beyond the stage of economical repair can be put back into service by means of justifiable reclamation large savings in allotted funds result which in turn can be devoted to the conservation of additional natural resources.

With this objective in view the Fifth Corps Area Quartermaster, in April, 1934, set up a Reclamation and Salvage Division at Fort Hayes, Ohio, to serve the CCC Camps in Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana and Kentucky. At first only a small number of men and women were employed and the reclamation of only a few items attempted. Later, when it became apparent that the organization was effecting such large savings in funds it was decided to expand sufficiently to reclaim all items of CCC clothing arid equipment which could be defended from the standpoint of ultimate appearance and economic repairability. This program led to the establishment of the present organization, which, although operating under the same name, is far removed from that little group which embraced on an experimental venture in reclamation in 1934.

textile repair department

The Reclamation and Salvage Division of the Fifth Corps Area Quartermaster's Office is now located at the Columbus (Ohio) General depot, where it occupies 90,400 sq. ft. of floor space divided into three general sections, each of which is highly departmentalized and so arranged that the "flow" of property for reclamation is uninterrupted. Representative of the larger departments are those devoted to the repair of footgear, messgear, clothing, bed equipment, tools, stoves and kitchen equipment. Some manufacturing is also carried on, e. g., insulated food containers, commisary boxes, cast aluminum plates, etc.

The number of regularly employed men and women is 88 but from time to time, as occasion demands, this group is augmented by intermittent workers. In the selection of personnel for reclamation work every effort is made to contribute to the relief of unemployment. At the same time no effort is spared to secure the services of experienced men and women so that the standards of reclamation will not suffer from indifferent labor.

Whereas in the beginning the Division served only the States in the Fifth Corps Area, a year or so ago by War Department Order, the activities of the Division were extended to include the states of the Sixth Corps Area, namely: Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan. In other words, the present organization maintains constant clothing and equipment exchange with the property officers of all CCC Districts in both Corps Area, and, in effect, operates as a reclamation agency for property from approximately 260 CCC Camps.

The program is not carried out directly with the camps, however, but through the several District Quartermasters. Each of these officers receives clothing and equipment for repair from the camps in his District and selects items for shipment to the Reclamation Division at Columbus, using for purposes of selection a detailed guide setting forth reclamation limits for all items which, after thorough testing, have been deemed economical and practical to repair. These precautions are taken, of course, to prevent the transportation of property obviously unsuited for disposal other than sale.

receiving and sorting department

At the Reclamation Plant shipments undergo a still more rigid inspection in order to eliminate any possibility of starting through the reclamation processes items which later may be found to be unsuitable for re-issue. Rejected articles are withdrawn and held for sale or for use in the reclamation of other articles of a similar nature. Reclaimed property is packaged and returned to service as soon as possible. This cycle continues for every article of clothing and equipment as long as it can be reclaimed justifiably. Eventually, of course, all property wears out and must be disposed of in some manner other than re-issue.

Realizing the possibility of overzealousness in reclamation the organization since its very inception has subjected a representative lot of every item of clothing and equipment to careful cost and methods analyses before beginning mass production.

Of paramount importance, of course, is the cost of reclamation. Can the item in question be reclaimed at a saving to the Government? This, is determined in every case by a test run of at least 100 pieces during which each operation is figured as to direct labor, materials, transportation and overhead costs. The total cost is then compared with commercial contractor quotations and, if favorable and an appreciable saving to the Government is apparent, the item is listed as economically reclaimable.

Of almost equal importance is the final appearance of the reclaimed property. Every effort is made to restore an article to "as good as new" condition. This is comparatively simple with articles of a metallic nature such as messgear, tools, stoves, etc., but with clothing and other textiles the problem is more complex. Textiles may be deteriorated from age, worn thin, badly stained or require such extensive repair that the finished product will not be suitable for re-issue even though the repair costs are within: economical limits. It is with items of this nature that reclamation personnel must exercise a maximum of good judgment.

Finally, it is of extreme importance that every reclamation method used is the best available at the moment. For that reason, methods are under constant scrutiny and where experimentation demonstrates improvement the change is made immediately. In this connection, the employees of the experimental department do not hesitate to call upon other Federal agencies, state institutions and private industry for assistance in developing improved methods. Many of the methods now in use are the result of such solicitation.

The organization is now well into its fifth year of operation. Ever since its humble beginning in 1934 its growth has been steadfastly fostered and encouraged by officials, of both the War Department and the CCC. Numerous other agencies also have expressed interest in the project and have sent observers to view at first hand the type of work being done. The project is no longer an experiment. It has attained a success far beyond the expectation of its founders and conceivably represents a development in the conservation of Government assets which may be extended eventually over a much greater area than that now served.


The acme in national park presentation in printed form has appeared in four booklets published by the American Planning and Civic Association. The series, of beautifully illustrated publications is "Dedicated to the late Stephen T. Mather, first Director of the National Park Service".

The booklets all carry the portfolio label but appear under four subtitles. Part 1, "What Are National Parks?", portrays certain examples of the types of areas now included in the National Park System and indicates some of the types that should be included but have not yet been given national park or monument status. Part 2, "Conservation of Nature", deals, with three phases of wilderness conservation in the National Park and Monument System--the rocks, the trees, the animals. Part 3, "Preservation of History", gives a cross section of the historic and prehistoric exhibits of the National Parks and Monuments. "This is another phase of the park form of land use; areas are set apart for their intrinsic value to be conserved unimpaired for the benefit and enjoyment of the people." Part 4, "Facilities and Services", presents the story of physical development in the parks as evolved from that conservation device, the Master Plan.

The new portfolio provides the effective vehicle with which to transmit a message of Service ideals and accomplishment. It will be prized by old friends of the parks as well as by those not so well acquainted with the Service for it is telegraphic in its brevity yet almost a cinema in its appeal. The portfolio may be obtained from the American Planning and Civic Association, 901 Union Trust Building, Washington, at 50¢ per set of four parts.

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Date: 04-Jul-2002